Closing Statement: Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis: To Review USDA Marketing Programs

Jun 25, 2015 Issues: Biotechnology

Remarks as prepared:

Today the subcommittee examined the tools and capabilities of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to assist food producers market their products.  As we look more closely at the types of products consumers are demanding, we need to have the programs in place to ensure that the claims made on product labels are truthful and not misleading.

Farmers want and need to provide consumers with the products they desire.  As we have just heard, the Agricultural Marketing Service has the tools and expertise to provide consumers with the information they want in a manner that supports interstate commerce.

We will soon consider a substitute amendment to H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labelling Act which seeks to put in place the policy to make this work.  That substitute is circulating in draft form and will continue to go through refinement as we near Committee consideration.

Consumers are now being exposed to arbitrary and inconsistent label claims, some for non GE products such as salt where there is obviously no genetically engineered salt.  Consumers will benefit from legislation under consideration which would establish a national, uniform and voluntary marketing approach to these label claims. 

The House Committee on Agriculture has a long history of its involvement in developing policies to further the advancement of agricultural biotechnology.  We are aware of the incredible potential this technology brings to food and fiber production.  With biotechnology, the careful and precise addition of one or a few genes to a plant may make it more productive and nutritious, more tolerant to environmental stresses such as drought, and more resistant to disease and pests. These technologies can likewise improve the efficiency and therefore the productivity of agriculture, while at the same time reducing detrimental effects on the environment.

These and other advances have enabled us to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in mankind’s history.  As our knowledge has increased, so has the speed and precision in which we are able to harness natural capabilities to improve the plants we cultivate.

We have just heard from USDA that they have the capability and resources to provide valuable oversight of these voluntary marketing claims.  We know from previous hearings in this Committee as well as the Energy and Commerce Committee that we have a robust regulatory review process to ensure human, plant and animals health, as well as environmental health.

We look forward to everyone’s thoughtful review and constructive suggestions. With that, this hearing of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research stands adjourned.